Stop-motion animation, usually with clay figurines, has been an age old medium in film and TV, and become instant hits when done right. It seems this holds true for mobile games as well. Clay Jam is a unique running game that probably has the best looking claymation in the gaming world. On top of its brilliant stop motion graphics, the colors are pleasantly vivid and game play is as easy as it should be.
The game requires the player to flick a small pebble down a hill, squashing clay monsters along the way with the goal of flinging the beast that awaits on the end of the hill as far as possible. The pebble can squash clay monsters that are small enough, but should avoid bigger ones until it is big enough to squash them too. The distance of a thrown beast is the main measurement of success, as this determines how well you are rewarded in the form of power ups. In each level, there is a certain distance a player must have thrown the beast before a power up is given.
The amount of clay collected are later converted into coins, which can be used to purchase clay monsters, power ups or hill upgrades. The more clay monsters in the hill, the more chances the pebble can grow and squash bigger monsters. Power ups include double-scores, shrinking clay monsters and acquiring more clay than usual. Power ups are either awarded when a certain distance is reached, or can be purchased with game currency or real money.
Game controls involve swiping left, right, forward and backward (but not too much otherwise a wave of hot, red lava will swallow the pebble). It’s a bit tricky to master, but one should get the hang of it after a few rounds.
Another thing that sets Clay Jam apart from all other games of its kind is that one does not need to complete all levels of a world before proceeding to the next one. In this game, all hills can be played at any time, as long as there are enough coins to unlock them.
Having played the game for days now, I’d say it’s addictive as it is entertaining. It’s not too hard to the point of getting frustrated, because any trip down the hill feels like a blast — win or lose. Clay Jam is Zynga’s best new game release to date, and it’s a definite must-play, must-have running game.